Horn Seeking to Address Prescription Drug Prices in ‘Smart and Effective’ Ways

December 12, 2019 by Dan McCue
Rep. Kendra Horn. (Photo by Mary Horn Photography)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Kendra Horn believes it should come as no surprise to anyone that reining in runaway prescription drug prices has been a top priority of members of the 116th Congress.

“After all, they are something that impacts just about everyone at some point in their lives,” the freshman congresswoman said.

“We’ve got to keep working on this issue, and thankfully, a lot of members have been advancing their own efforts to address what I call ‘prescription drug fraud,'” she said.

“What we’re talking about is how to ensure that everyone in our community has access to affordable quality healthcare and to achieve that, we have to get to the root causes of the rising, astronomical cost of healthcare if we’re going to make lasting change.” 

One issue of particular concern to Horn is the high cost of insulin, which she says impacts about 350,000 Oklahomans.

The price of insulin has risen roughly 200% over the past decade, according to the American Diabetes Association, the Health Care Cost Institute, and others, and this is “way out of line with the income people are bringing home,” the congresswoman said. 

In an effort to address this, Horn authored H.R. 4649, The Capping Out-of-Pockets Costs for Seniors Act, which would create an out-of-pocket prescription drug cap at $2,000, for approximately 46 million patients who have Medicare Part D.

Seniors across the country can pay up to $5,100 on their medications, some of which they need daily. The cap will save them about $3,100, Horn said.

“Again, it’s not the answer to everything, but it is another of those steps in the right direction.” 

Horn stressed that various approaches are needed to solve the complex puzzle.

“I think it is always important to be mindful of that,” she said. “It’s almost too easy for us to say, ‘Let’s just put a cap on prices and that will solve everything.’

“I think we also need to look at a wide range of factors contributing to the costs of medications — and it’s not just the pharmaceutical companies. There are middlemen, pharmacy benefits managers and the like, and I think we need to look at where their negotiated savings are going.

“If they’re not going all the way to consumers, then that’s something we’re definitely going to have to address,” she said.

Because she believes “there are a lot of different people sticking their hands in the honey jar,” Horn co-sponsored H.R.1034 – Phair Pricing Act of 2019.

The legislation, which was reintroduced earlier this year by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., aims to lower the cost of prescription medication by increasing transparency in the drug pricing process.

“We’re not putting this all on pharmaceutical companies, which would be an ineffective way of dealing with drug prices,” she said. “We recognize that some of the discounts negotiated by those standing between the pharmaceutical companies and the local pharmacies are not actually reaching consumers — and they’re paying the price, literally.”

Horn said when she talks to constituents in her district about these issues, the emotion she most often encounters is frustration.

“It’s really difficult for the people who need these life-saving medications to understand why they can’t afford them, even with Medicare Part D,” Horn stated. “That’s why it’s important for all of us in Congress to do our best to understand what the root causes of excessive prescription drug prices are and address them in smart and effective ways, not just in ways that sound good in a sound bite.”

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